Works of Arthur Golding - Translations

A Tragedie of Abraham's Sacrifice, 1575

Original Spelling Version

Transcribed by Barboura Flues © copyright 2002

Words discussed in the glossary are underlined.
Run-ons are indicated by ~~~

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Nina Green earns special thanks, first for locating a copy of this rather obscure play, and second for pointing out interesting language/imagery parallels between Golding's Abraham and certain works of William Shakespeare.

ABRAHAM, a shepherd
SARA, his wife
ISAAC, their son

The Play
Appendix I
    Suggested Reading
    About the Author
Appendix II: Connections
Appendix III: Vocabulary, Language


God saue you euery chone both great and small
Of all degrees: right welcom be you all.
It is now long, at least as seemes to me,
Since here such preace togither I did see.
VVould God we might each weeke through all the yeare
See such resort in Churches as is here.
Ye Gentlemen and Ladies, I ye pray
Giue eare and harken what I haue to say.
To hold your peace alonly I require.
VVhat weene you (some wil say) by that desire. [Pro.10]
VVe nother can nor will away with that.
But yit you must, or else I tell you flat,
That both of us our labour lose togither.
In speaking I, and you in comming hither.
VVherefore I craue but silence at your hand,
My wordes with patience for to understand.
    Both great and small, alonly doe but heare,
And I will tel you straunge & woundrous geere.
VVherefore now harken: for the thing is great
VVhereof I mind this present time to treate. [Pro.20]
You thinke your selues perchaunce to be in place,
VVere as you be not, now as standes the case.
For Lausan is not here, it is farre hence.
But yit when neede requires, I will dispence
VVith all of you, that hence within an hower
Eche one may safely be within his bowre.
As now this is the land of Palestine.
VVhat? do you wonder at these words of myne?
I say yit further to you, see you well.
Yon place? It is the house wherein doth dwell [Pro.30]
A servaunt of the liuing Gods, whose name
Hight Abraham the righteous man, the same
VVhose liuely faith hath won him endles fame.
Anon you shall him tempted see and tryde,
I & toucht to quicke with grefs that shal betide.
And lastly you shall see him iustified
By faith, for killing (in a certeine wise)
Isaac his dearest sonne in sacrifice.
And shortly you shall see straunge passions:
The flesh, the world his owne affections [Pro.40]
Not onely shall be shewed in liuely hew,
But, (which more is) his faith shal them subdue.
And that is so, many a faithfull wight,
Anon shall beare me record in your sight.
First Abraham, and Sara you shall see,
And Isaac did shall with them both agree.
Now are not these sufficient witnessings?
VVho minds therfore to see so wondrous things,
VVe pray him onely talking to forbeare
And unto us to giue attentiue eare, [Pro.50]
Assuring him that he shall see and heare
No trifling toyes but graue & wondrous geere,
And that we will his eares to him restore,
To vse them as he listeth as before.


[Abraham commeth out of his house & sayth.]

ABRAHAM: Alas, my God, and was there euer any,
That hath indurde of combrances so many,
As I haue done by fleeting too and fro,
Since I my natiue countrie did forgo?
Or is there any liuing on the ground,
Of benefits that hath such plenty found?
Loe how thou makest mortall men to see,
Thy passing goodnes by calamitie.
And as of nought thou madest euery thing:
So out of ill thou causest good to spring. [10]
Was neuer wight to blessed at thy hand,
That could thy greatnes fully understand.
Full threescore yeares and thereto fifteene mo,
My life had lasted now in weale and woe,
According to the course in sundry wise
Appointed by thy heauenly destinies,
Whose will it was I should be bred and borne
Of Parents rich in catell, coyne, and corne.
But unto him that richest is in see,
What ioy or comfort could his riches be, [20]
When he compeld, compelled was (I say)
To see, to serue, and worship euery day,
A thowsand forged gods in steede of thee,
Which madst the heauen & earth which we do see?
Thou then eftsoones didst will me to conuey
My selfe from those same places quite away.
And I immediatly upon thy call,
Left Parents, countrie, goods with gods & all.
Yea Lord, thou knowest I wist not whither then
Thou wouldst me lead, or where me stay agen: [30]
But he that followeth thee, full well may say,
He goeth right: and while he holds that way
He neuer needes to feare that he shall stray.

[Sara comming out of the same house sayeth.]

SARA: In thinking and bethinking me what store
Of benefits I haue had erst heretofore,
Of thee my God which euer hast prouided
To keepe my mind and bodie undefiled,
And furthermore according to thy word
(Which I tooke then as spoken but in boord)
Hast blist my aged time aboue all other, [40]
By giuing me the happy name of mother.
I am so ravisht in my thought and mind,
That (as I would full fayne) no meane I find
The least of all the benefits to commend,
Which thou my God doest daily still me send.
Yit sith alone with thee Lord here I am,
I will thee thanke at least wise as I can.
But is not yun my husband whom I see?
I thought he had bin further of from me.

ABRAHAM: Sara, Sara, thy mind I well allow, [50]
Nought hast thou sayd but I the same auow.
Come on, and let us both giue thankes togither
For Gods great mercy since our comming hither
The frute thereof as both of us hath found:
Let prayse & thankes from both of us resownd.

SARA: Contented Sir, how might I better doe,
Than you to please in all you set me too?
And euen therfore hath God ordeyned me.
Agein, wherein can time spent better be,
Than in the setting forth of Gods dew praise, [60]
Whose maiestie doth shew it selfe alwayes.
Aboue and eke beneath, before our eyes?

ABRAHAM: Of truth no better can a man deuise,
Than of the Lord to sing the excellence,
For none can pay him other recompence
For all his giftes which daily he doth send,
Than in the same, his goodnes to commend.

    The Song of Abraham and Sara.

Come on then, let us now beginn to sing
    with hartes in one accord,
The prayses of the souerein heauenly king [70]
    our onely God and Lord.
His onely hand doth giue us whatsoeuer
We haue, or shall hereafter haue for euer.
It is alonly he that doth mainteine
    the heauen that is so hie,
So large in compasse and in pace so mayne:
    and eke the starrie skie,
The course whereof he stablisht hath so sure,
That ay withouten fayle it doth endure.
The skorching heate of sommer he doth make, [80]
    the haruest and the spring:
And winters cold that maketh folke to quake,
    in season he doth bring.
Both wethers, faire, and fowle, both sea & land,
Both night and day be ruled by his hand.
Alas good Lord! and what are we that thou
    didst choose and enterteyne
Alonly us of all the world, and now
    doth safely us mainteine
So long a time from all the wicked rowtes [90]
In towne and country where we come throughouts.
Thou of thy goodnes drewest us away
    from places that are giuen
To serue false gods: and at this present day
    hast wandringly us driuen,
To trauell still among a thowsand daungers,
In nacions unto whom we be but straungers.
The land of Egypt in our chiefest neede
    thou madst to haue a care,
Thy seruants bodies to mainteine and feede [100]
    with fine and wholsom fare,
And in the ende compelledst Pharao,
Full sore against his will, to let us goe.
Foure mightie Kinges were already gon
    away with victorie,
I ouertooke and put to flight anon
    before they could me spie.
And so I saw the feeldes all stained red
With blud of those which through my sword lay dead.
From God receiued well this benefite: [110]
    for he doth mind us still,
As his deere freendes in whom he doth delight,
    and we be sure he will,
Performe us all thinges in dew time and place,
As he hath promist of his owne free grace.
To us and unto our posteritie
    this land belongs of right,
To hold in honor and felicitie
    as God it hath behight,
And we beleue it surely shall be so, [120]
For from his promise God will neuer goe.
Now tremble you ye wicked wights therefore,
    which sowed are so thicke
Throughout the world, & worship now such store
    of gods of stone and sticke,
Which you your selues with wicked hands do carue,
To call upon and vainly for to serue.
And thou O Lord whom we doe know to be
    the true and liuing God,
Come from thy place, that we may one day see [130]
    the vengeance of thy rodde
    Upon thy foes, that they may come to nowght
    With all their gods deuizd through wicked thowght.

ABRAHAM: Go to my Sara, that great God of ours
Hath blist us, to thintent that we all howres
Should for his giftes which he alone doth giue,
Him serue and prayse as long as we doe liue,
Now let us hence and chiefly take good heede,
We hazard not our sonne to much in deede,
By suffering him to haunt the company [140]
Of wicked folke, with whom you see we be.
A new made vessell holdeth long the sent
Of that that first of all is in it pent.
A child by nature nere so well dispozed,
By bringing up is quite and cleane transpozed.

SARA: Sir, I doe hope my dewtie for to doe,
Therefore the thing that we must looke unto,
Is that Gods will may be fulfild in him.
Right sure I am we shall him weeld so trim,
And that the Lord will blisse him so: as all [150]
Shall in the ende to his high honor fall.

* * * * *

[Satan in the habit of a Monke.]

SATAN: I go, I come, I trauell night and day,
I beate my braynes, that by no kind of way
My labour be in any wise misspent.
Reigne God aloft aboue the firmament,
The earth at least to me doth wholly drawe,
And that mislikes not God nor yet his lawe
As God by his in heauen is honored:
So I on earth by myne am worshipped.
God dwells in heauen, and I on earth likewize [160]
God maketh peace, and I doe warres deuize.
God reignes aboue, and I doe reigne belowe:
God causeth loue, and I doe hatred sowe.
God made the starrie skies and earthy clodds:
I made much more: for I did make the godds.
God serued is by Angells full of light:
And doe not my faire Angells glister bright?
I trow there is not one of all my swine,
Whose grooyn I make not godlike for to shine.
Those lechours, drunkards, gluttons, ouerfedd, [170]
Whose noses shine faire tipt with brazell redd,
Which weare fine precious stones uppon their skinnes
Are my upholders & my Cherubins.
God neuer made a thing so perfect yit,
That could the makers full perfection hit.
But I haue made, (whereof I glory may)
A thowsand worser than my selfe farre way.
For I beleue and know it in my thought,
Therz but one God, & that my self am nowght.
But yit I know there are whose foolish mind [180]
I haue so turned quite against the kind,
That some (which now is common long agone)
Had leuer serue a thowsand gods than one.
And others haue conceiued in their brayne,
that for to thinke there is a God is vayne.
Thus since the time that man on mowld was made,
With happy lucke I followed haue this trade
And follow wil (come losse or come there gain)
So long as I this habit may mainteine,
I say this habit wherewithall as now [190]
The world is unacquainted: but I vow
The day shall come it shall be knowne so rife,
Of euery wight, both child, yea man, and wife,
That nother towne nor village shall scape free
From seeing it to their great miserie.
O cowle, o cowle, such mischef thou shalt wurk,
And such abuse shall underneath thee lurke
At high noone daies: O Cowle, o Cowle I say,
Such mischief to the world thou shalt conuey,
That if it were not for the spightfulnesse, [200]
Wherewith my hart is frawghted in excesse:
Euen I my selfe the wretched world shall rew,
To see the things that shall through thee insew.
For I, than who, of all none worse can be,
Am made yit worse by putting on of thee.
These thinges shall in their time without all faile
Be brought to passe. As now I will assaile
One Abraham, who onely with his race
Withstands me, and defies me to my face.
In deede I haue him often times assailed: [210]
But euer of my purpose I haue failed.
I neuer saw olde fellow hold such tack.
But I will lay such loade upon his backe,
That (as I hope) ere long I shall him make
A sonne of myne. I know that he doth take
The true Creator for his onely hold
To trust unto: and that doth make him bold.
In deede he hath alliance with the trew
Creator, who hath promist him a new
Right wondrous things, according whereunto [220]
He hath already done, and still will doe.
But what for that? If stedfastnes him faile
To hold out still: what shall his hope availe?
I trow I will so many blowes him giue,
That from his hold at length I shall him driue.
His elder sonne I feare not: and the other
Shal hardly scape these hands of mine: the mother
Is but a woman: as for all the meynie
That serue him, they be simple sowles as enie
Can lightly be: there is a ragged rowt [230]
Of sillie shepherds, nother skild nor stowt
Ynough against my wily sleights to stand.
But hence I will and worke so out of hand.
To haue them, that unlesse I misse my marke,
Anon I will deceiue their greatest Clarke.

* * * * *

[Abraham comming out of his house agein sayth.]

ABRAHAM: What euer thing I doe or say,
I weery am thereof streit way,
How meete so euer that it bee,
Soe wicked nature reignes in me.
But most of all it me mislikes. [240]
And to the hart with sorrow strikes,
That seeing God is neuer tyrde
In helping me, yea undezyrde:
I also likewise doe not streyne
My selfe, unweerie to remayne,
In dew and trew acknowledgment.
Of his great mercie to me sent,
As well with mouth as with my hart.

THE ANGELL: Abraham, Abraham.

ABRAHAM: ~~~ Lord here I am.

ANGELL; Goe take thyne onely deerebeloued sonne, [250]
Euen Isaac, and bring him to the place
Which hight the myrrh of God: which being done
Slea him in sacrifice before my face:
And burne him whole upon a hill which I
Will shew thee there, goe hye thee by and by.

ABRAHAM: What! burne him! burne him! wel I wil do so.
But yit my God, the thing thou putst me to
Seemes very straunge and irksom for to be --
Lord, I beseech thee, wilt thou pardon me?
Alas, I pray thee giue me strength and power, [260]
To doe that thou commaundest me this howre.
I well perceiue and plainly now doe find,
That thou art angry with me in thy mind.
Alas my Lord I haue offended thee.
O God by whom both heauen & earth made be,
With whom intendest thou to be at war?
And wilt thou cast thy seruaunt down so far?
Alas my sonne, alas, what shall I doe?
This matter askes advised looking too.

* * * * *

[A companie of Shepherdes comming out of Abraham's house.]

THE ONE HALF OF THEM: Hie time it is Sirs as I trow [270]
We hie us packing on a row
To our companions where they be.

THE OTHER HALF: Euen so thinkes me.
For if we all togither were
We should the lesser neede to feare.

ISAAC: How Sirs, I pray you tary. Will
You leaue me so behind you still?

SHEPHERDS: Good child abide you there,
Or else our maister your father
And our mistresse your mother may, [280]
Be angrie for your going away:
The time will come by Gods good grace,
That you shall grow and proue a pace:
And then he shall perceiue the charge,
Of keeping flocks in feelds at large,
What daungers come from hill and dale,
By rauening beasts that lye in stale,
Among the couerts of the woode
To kill our cattell for their foodd.

ISAAC: And doe ye thinke I would, [290]
Goe with you though I could,
Before I knew my fathers mind?

SHEPHERDS: In deede a child of honest kind,
And well brought up, ought euermore
His fathers and his mothers lore
In all his doings to obey.

ISAAC: I will not fayle it (if I may)
To die therefore: but will ye stay
A while untill I ronne and know
My fathers will?

SHEPHERDS: ~~~ Yea, therefore goe. [300]

    The Song of the Shepherds

O happy is the wight
That grounds him selfe aright
On God, and maketh him his shield:
And lets the worldly wize,
Which looke about the skies,
Goe wander where they list in field.
No rich, ne poore estate,
Can puffe or yit abate,
The godly and the faithfull hart:
The faithfull goeth free [310]
Although he martred be
A thowsand times with woe and smart.
The mighty God him leeds,
In chiefest of his needes,
And hath of him a speciall care,
To make him to abide,
Euen at the poynt to slide,
When worst of all he seemes to fare.
Whereof a proofe we see
Our maister well may be: [320]
For why, the more him men assayle
And urge on euery side:
Lesse feare in him is spyde,
And lesse his courage doth him fayle.
He left his natiue soyle,
Hard famin did him foyle,
Which draue him into Egypt land,
And there a king of might,
Tooke Sara from his sight,
Uniustly euen by force of hand. [330]
But streit on sute to God,
The king through Gods sharp rod,
Did yeeld to him his wife streit way,
And Abraham neuer stayd,
But as the king him prayd,
Departed thence without delay.
And during this his flight
He grew to so good plight,
That Loth to part away was faine:
Bycause, as stoode the case, [340]
To litle was the place,
To keepe the flockes of both them twayne.
There fell a sodeyn iarre
Betweene nine Kings through warre,
Wherein fiue kings were put to flight,
And Loth him selfe, with all
His goods both great and small,
Away was caried cleane and quite.
Our faithfull Maister streit,
On newes of this conceit, [350]
Made fresh pursute immediatly:
And having but as then
Three hundred eighteene men,
Did make the enmies all to fly.
And of the reskewd pray
The tenth to the Preest did pay.
And having done ech man his right,
Returned home anon,
With commendacion,
For putting so his foes to flight. [360]
But nother sonne he had,
Nor daughter him to glad.
Which thing when Sara did perceiue,
She put her maid in bed,
To serue her husbands sted,
Bycause her selfe could not conceiue.
So Agar bare a sonne
A thirteene yeares outronne,
Whose name is called Ismael.
And to this present day, [370]
Our maisters goods are ay
Increaced passing wondrous well.
Then for the couenants sake
Which God him selfe did make,
Betwene him and our maister deere,
Our maister and we all,
As well the great as small,
At once all circumcized were.

ISAAC: My fellowes: God hath shewed himselfe to us.
So good, so loving and so gracious, [380]
That I can neuer any thing yit craue
No small ne great, but that I much more haue,
Than I desire. I would haue gone with you
(As you doe know) to see full fayne: but now
Behold my father commeth here at hand.

ABRAHAM AND SARA: But it behoueth us to understand,
That if God will us any thing to doe,
We must streyt wayes obedient be thereto,
And nother striue nor speake against his will.

SARA: In deede Sir so I thinke and purpose still. [390]
But yit I pray you thinke not straunge, that I
Doe take this matter somewhat heauily.

ABRAHAM: A good hart (wife) doth shew it self at neede.

SARA: Thats trew: & therfore lets be sure in deede,
It is Gods will and mind we should doe so.
We haue but this child onely and no mo
Who yit is weake: in him stands all the trust
Of all our hope, with him it falls to dust.

ABRAHAM: Nay rather in God.

SARA: ~~~ But giue me leaue to say.

ABRAHAM: Can euer God his word once sayd unsay? [400]
No, no, and therefore be you out of dowt,
That God wil keepe & prosper him throughout.

SARA: Yea, but will God haue us to hazard him?

ABRAHAM: No hazarding it is where God doth gard him.

SARA: My hart misgiueth some mishappe.

ABRAHAM: I nother dread nor dowt of any hap.

SARA: There is in hand some secret enterpryze.

ABRAHAM: What ere it be, it doth from God aryze.

SARA: At least, if what it were you wist.

ABRAHAM: I shall ere long, if God so list. [410]

SARA: So long away the child will neare abide.

ABRAHAM: For that our God will well ynough prouide.

SARA: Yea but the wayes now full of daungers are.

ABRAHAM: Who dyes in following God needs neuer care.

SARA: If he should dye, then farewel our good dayes.

ABRAHAM: God doth foresett mens dying times alwayes.

SARA: It were much better here to sacrifyze.

ABRAHAM: What euer you thinke, God thinks otherwise.

SARA: Well then Sir, sith it must be so
The grace of God with both you goe. [420]
Adiew my sonne.

ISAAC: ~~~ Good mother eke adieu.

SARA: My sonne obey thy father still,
And God thee saue: that if it be his will
Thou mayst in health returne right soone agein.
My child I can not me refreyne
But that I needes must kisse the now.

ISAAC: Good mother, if it should not trouble you,
I would desire you one thing ere I went.

SARA: Say on my sonne: for I am well content
To graunt thee thy request. [430]

ISAAC: I humbly doe you pray
To put this greef away.
These teares of yours refrayne,
I shall returne ageine
(I hope) in better plyght
Than now I am in syght:
And therefore stay this greef and wo.

ABRAHAM: My fellows: we haue now to goe
Good six daies iorney ere we rest:
See that your cariages be prest [440]
And all things that we shall neede.

THE COMPANIE: Sir, as for that let us take heede,
Doe you no more but onely shew your will.

ABRAHAM: On then: and God be with you still.
The mightie God who of his goodnesse ay,
From time to time euen to this present day,
So kind and gracious unto us hath be,
Be helpfull still both unto you and mee.
Deale wisely howsoeuer that you fare:
I hope this iorney which we going are [450]
Shall be performed happily.

SARA: Alas alas full litle wote I
When I shall see you all ageine.
The Lord now with you all remayne.

ISAAC: Good mother God you guyde.

ABRAHAM: ~~~ Farewell.

THE COMPANIE: God guide, and keepe you through his grace.

ABRAHAM: Gowe on Sirs, let us hence apace.

* * * * *


The first line there is :

SATAN: But is not this ynough to make me mad,
That whereas I make euery man to gad,
And all the world to follow after me, [460]